From the roof to the kitchen
55-year old Indrani Chakraborty finds fulfillment in vegetable cultivation. And also the relief that what she and her family consume are safe
Since when have you been growing your own vegetables?
It’s been ten years. I started out with flowers and then moved on to cultivating vegetables. It was purely out of curiosity. I used to see my father-in-law grow vegetables effortlessly, without using fertilizers or any other modern methods. To me that was magic. Before I moved to Salt Lake here in Kolkata, I lived in a congested place and could never indulge in any such activities. But the new surroundings were favorable and my father-in-law an inspiration.
What are the vegetables you cultivate?
During the summer it is ladies finger, brinjal, capsicum, chili, lemon, pumpkin, and bottle gourd. Winters see cauliflower, tomatoes, and broccoli. All these can be grown in pots, whereas other vegetables like potatoes need a big space which I don’t have.
Does the science come naturally to you or do you have a source to educate?
I got started after receiving training from my father-in-law. But now, YouTube comes handy. There are tutorials that show step by step methods to grow various kinds of vegetables.
Are there challenges in having a terrace garden?
Yes, there are. Insects create problems, at times. For instance, brinjal invites insects. But I make it a point to never use any kind of pesticide because the family consumes these vegetables. Instead, I use neem oil and other organic fertilizers such as vermicompost, cow dung, and khol (a Bengali term for a fertilizer preparation with mustard seeds).
Is cultivating one’s own vegetables economical?
It is. However, I have to buy from the market as well as I don’t have enough space to grow all kinds of vegetables.
Any plans of expanding the small space into a larger one?
I can only use the space I have on my rooftop. But I do intend to add some more names to my list. Like this year I added capsicum; next year I plan to try growing different types of leaves and leafy vegetables such as spinach.